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Teacher Teams Aid School Reform

Kansas City, Kansas, school officials got staff involved right away in meeting NCLB requirements, by setting up a Web-based professional development program and forming "audit teams" to review reading and math programs. Included: Questions audit teams used in doing their reviews.

The Kansas City, Kansas, school district is implementing a Web-based professional development program that contains the content standards, benchmarks, and other indicators that teachers need for specific grade levels. Plans are in place to create links to high-quality lesson plans, created by teachers, which directly address specific standards and contain scoring rubrics and exemplary activities. Teachers will be able to find the standard and benchmark they need to address, then click on available lesson plans for their grade level. After selecting a lesson plan, they can change it to suit the particular needs of their students and can save the revised plan in their own computer folder for future use.

In 2002-03, the district provided major technical assistance, including professional development, to the ten schools targeted for school improvement. In 2003, three of these schools made large enough achievement gains for the second consecutive year to exit school improvement.

District officials assert that school-level "audit teams" for math and reading have made a substantial impact in all ten schools. These audit teams, which consist of district teachers and other staff, spent a week at each of the ten schools reviewing how personnel, facilities, and funds were used and how all of these resources were targeted toward areas of need. They also sought to assure that school-wide goals were in place and that all efforts were directed toward achieving those goals. These are some of the questions the audit team addressed.

  • Are school goals set?
  • Are they adequate to move the school to adequate yearly progress (AYP) achievement?
  • Are the strategies described in the School and Small Learning Community Action Plans sufficient to improve student achievement to a level that achieves AYP?
  • Is the staff development plan sufficient to support the staff in learning and implementing the strategies?
  • Are the resources (instructional materials, money, personnel, space, time) aligned to maximize the effectiveness of the action plans?
  • Is Principal Leadership and practice effectively supporting and expecting the implementation of the plan?
  • Is Instructional Coach leadership and practice effectively supporting and expecting the implementation of the plan?
  • What is the current implementation level of the action plan?
  • Recommendations
  • The audit teams often made very specific recommendations about ways to improve school plans, such as recommending particular instructional strategies in reading.

SOURCE: Center on Education Policy

To read the full report, see A Look Inside 33 School Districts: Year 2 of the No Child Left Behind Act.

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